Thursday, March 31, 2005

Two steps forward, one step back.

I hesitate to do this, because...well, it's obvious, really. But this is the result of my attempt at dyeing silk and soy silk safely tucked in to tights legs to keep them neat and tidy.


(And for the record, I am still a non-meat eater!)

To be slightly fair to me, these samples are not dry yet, and they will look a tad better, at least colourwise, when they are. But, what have I learnt? That trying to protect silk Does Not Work. Despite soaking for twenty four hours, and leaving in the dyebath to cool overnight, the colour has not penetrated right through the sliver.

I am trying very hard not to be discouraged. Especially when there is this example from Sara of just how to do it out there! However, I will persevere - I have seen beautiful naturally dyed examples of both these fibres, so it can be done.

The next experiment - cheap and cheerful beading - is a mixed success, too:


I bought the mixed beads off eBay some while back, and although I liked them, they were not quite what I had expected. The leaves came from somewhere or other...and the holes proved to be too small for the jump rings I had, so I had to use wire. Which I had not done for........ages. I did improve as I went on, but! However - they have given me a good way of playing, trying things out, without using anything really important, so that's ok.

Whilst I am documenting failures, or semi-failures, my never-fail sponge cake did. Wafer-thin, it looks. Trouble is, I rarely bake cakes now, so it is only when it is my turn to provide the comestibles for the Coven that I ever do. Now I have to decide whether to stop at the supermarket on the way over, or to make them eat cake (groan.)

The SOAR prospectus went up on the internet today. I did go and take a look. I shall say little more. There Are Compensations.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Moving right along.....

So, the holiday is over and it's back to whatever passes as work around here. I made this "new year" resolution to get on with the dyeing experiments, so that is one of the things I have done. I have dyed very little silk, and even less soy silk, so that is the plan....what I have done in the past has always tended to get very dishevelled in the process, so when I saw on another blog* someone using old tights legs to keep roving all neat and tidy when being painted, I thought that it might be worth trying that for immersion dyeing, too. I am aware of a couple of possible issues: needing a little extra dye because nylon takes acid dyes (I am working with natural dyes at present which is essentially the same thing) and that tights are themselves dyed and the brown colour might migrate. No information there right now - it will be passed on in due course!
So here is where we are at:


More than one thing for the money here: the flash, too, which I forgot to switch off - again. And the shadow of me taking the photo, which I really kind of like. My ghostly presence, if you will. But the real deal, is: silk, soy silk, in a dyebath of lac natural dye extract, alum as mordant.

An aside: I rarely use anything other than alum, and in fact could have used lac without any mordant at all. It is substantive, as is cochineal, courtesy, I think, of the carminic acid content. But I wanted the best take-up and fastness I could get, hence the alum - happy to be politely disabused of this - as silk seems sometimes a little shall we say fickle with natural dyes. I use mainly no mordant or just alum for mainly environmental reasons, and, let me be honest simplicity/laziness. I do play around with modifiers, use iron, and very occasionally copper. Though really, I might as well use chrome, as I have a lifetimes supply of it that actually using would be better than chucking! H'mm.

OK, what else. Finished the merino/cashmere. It is washed and abused, and now will be handed over to the DSM for knitting. Not a bad yarn, although I am very prone to looking at any yarn I have spun and seeing only the thick puffy bits......I have also begun spinning some rather luscious dyed batts that I bought at SOAR last year, in browns, rusty-pinky-reds and dark blue-purple (can't you just tell that I was spinning in the dimly lit sitting room last night, eh?) Very nice and silky-soft, but I don't really have any idea of what to do with it - I had originally intended a shawl, but now I'm not so sure. Whatever happened to all those resolutions about always spinning for a purpose??

Now then. This is the meadow over the river opposite our cottage. I do assure you that there are lambs in this image. Yes, there are - in the middle, between the trees, just below Rose Cottage. That is the closest that the little buggers have come so far!


As soon as I can, I'll get the so and sos on camera, they are not getting away with it for ever!

And while I was out there, I thought I might as well annoy Mrs Doolallyflip next door - it's a nice view up the lane, and if she thought I was photographing her peering through her nets at me, well...not my fault.

new bridge

*The reason for the asterisk is that I know it would be good to add the link to the blog I was referring to, but my dicing with html only goes so far! I'll go and have a look at it - I like to build on my skills, but it's rather like my attitude to putting air in my tyres, I am just so certain sure that I am risking letting all the air out if I check them......

Oh, and finally. I can happily report that my mother loved her trip to the Thai restaurant, mainly, I think, because the couple running it are so polite and attentive, and very nice. They treated her like a queen, and she always responds well to that. But it was a very nice meal, and we shall go again. Yippee.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

Pausing to draw breath

Day two of the holiday, and all is well. We are actually managing not to cram too much work in to our time off - we might have been hard at it in the garden, but the weather is not in fact all that marvelous, so we are just doing little bits. The ritual trip to the Garden Centre yesterday (everyone goes at Easter - it's the new church!) Various other chores, and then had to go to the Post Office this morning with a load of eBay parcels. So we celebrated by trying out the latest new cafe (actually, cafe-bar) in town, and it is a really good one! You wouldn't think that one small town could support so many eating places, but we have something like fifteen or sixteen now, and all seem to be flourishing. This new one is waaaay up at the top of my list, great atmosphere, with jazz-type music playing, good food, nice wine, fun place. Especially as it is owned/run by twins, which is very disconcerting after a large glass of Chardonnay......

My second indulgent lunch in a couple of days, met Nanny Ogg and Freyalynn on Thursday, in Bradford, which was very nice, the meeting/lunch rather than Bradford. (Not that there is anything wrong with Brad...oh, never mind!) F in particular was loaded down with interesting and inexpensive jewellery from - Accessorize?? Which I looked at, and thought - I can make something like that. So that is what I am trying to get to today, but my nice lunch with the DSM, and then a possibly ill-advised attempt (successful, though) at erecting a mini-??greenhouse. Well, we only cracked one bit of plastic..... and then, I was unable to refuse the lure of putting more stuff up on eBay, which takes more time that you might expect. But being able to de-clutter and make a little money gets addictive.

OK, so I was waxing lyrical about primroses:

(no subject)

Photos of stuff I have created in a day or two, I hope. But tomorrow it's York and mama, who has agreed to going to a Thai restaurant for lunch. Could be interesting....Still, you have to credit her with not giving up, and still being a game old bird.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Spring Greens

(It was a rabbit.)

We are in an interval - I first noticed at the weekend that there were leaf buds on the trees. Of course, the daffodils are much more obvious, but we had seen the first of those in Cornwall, and they had slowly, slowly kept on a'comin'. But now, branches are uplifting and stretching themselves, there are, as I say, buds, not to mention leaflets in some instances. And masses of primroses, yum. All so pretty, so very springlike...and yet. Yet not quite there yet, is what. I can see the first stirrings of Spring, I can smell them, too. But there are still lingering nips of chill in the air, and long moments of greyness.

It may just be me. For all their vaunted allure, I actually do autumn and winter better than I do spring and summer, the latter being either wet and dark and utterly depressing (just like winter, except that is meant to be so) or just too damn hot. As for spring - well, I don't know what the problem is - I get through winter, and then, it's a downhill slither for a while, despite the eastercard prettiness all around me. (There are even lambs around now, northern lambs, I mean, which arrive much, much later than their softy southern cousins.)

It may just be me. I had an event to get through yesterday. Now, this is totally irrational, so scoff away. I had my first eye test and examination since the cataracts last year, and I got nervous about it. No evidence, nothing at all to make me seriously think anything was wrong. I said it was irrational! I think, apart from that, it had to do with the debris from the vitreous detatchments, which have formed Olympic squads in there and do formation swimming practice day and night. When my eyes are tired, I sometimes have to draw aside the semi-veils, or at least that is what it feels like. I'm exaggerating, of course. A minor problem - but mine own.

OKOK. This is supposed to be a fibre blog. Ahem. Nothing much - merino and cashmere nearly finished, nice enough yarn, abuses up well. I'm doodling crochet with the leftovers from the shawl - I'll blog it if it works out. I put a pair of socks on to needles over the weekend, very fine yarn, I've done about two inches. Still, I like socks ongoing. But I need a new big project. Will spend some time over the weekend cogitating.

Now, here's a funny thing. The indigo dyed cotton and silk, which I think is a rather nasty yarn all told, is being knitted up by the DSM. But he is concerned that he hasn't enough time to get the scarf finished by the deadline, so I said I would work on it too. So, simple moss stitch. I did a few rows, tension appears pretty much the same. But, and a mighty big but, the resulting fabric looks totally different. Somehow, despite physically knitting in much the same way, we produce a weird difference in the end product. His moss stitch is fairly smooth, fluid and flat, mine is textured and crisper. You could feel it if you ran your fingers down.

So it got frogged.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A la recherche du temps perdu

Or words to that effect. But before I set off on that particular trail....

I am sitting at the computer with the door to this room firmly shut. On the other side of the door, or to be more accurate, in the bedroom, under the bed, is a cat. The cat is not alone. There may, in fact, be two cats, but there is definitely one, and....something else. Something that was brought upstairs in a rush, squeaking or twittering. And cats having now discovered that under the bed is a very useful place to hide from irate or agitated human beings who want to stop them having fun or make them do something they don't want to do....well, you get the picture. I may just stay in here until the DSM gets home, and let him deal with Whatever It Is. Or is that too plain dam' mean of me? (Need for a cup of tea may drive me out. But perhaps cat and prey will have vanished - can happen. With luck.)

Yes, life is back to normal, routine madness.

Little of a fibre, yarn or whatever nature has passed through my hands for the last couple of days. Lots of time in the car - the south is very definitely another country and a long way away. It did seem very strange to be back. But we had a good time.

Seeing my family was great, and we enjoyed catching up on all the news. My aunt, sole survivor of my father's generation was looking and sounding wonderfully well - she is around eighty five now. None of my globe-trotting cousins were able to be present, but I got news of all of them, and spent time with most of the rest. The givers of the party seemed to like their rather strange gift, and it gave Janet the opportunity to get out some quilts she has made - this when we went back with them for tea. I wish we could get together more often!

The lunch party being where it was, we had the opportunity to revisit another fragment of the past. It is way too long a story to recount here, in all its gory detail, but it seemed like a good chance to lay the odd ghost. It worked out very well, it was rather like watching a play, something familiar but apart. We drove down a street where we had often been before, and as we did so, looked through a window, illuminated like a stage set, and saw - nothing. Nothing much at all, and absolutely nothing of any consequence. I do really feel as though we have brought down a curtain, which we should have done long since but somehow couldn't. A little bit more of me has grown up....

Yesterday morning, we dithered about where to go, what to do - and ended up going to the Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Wisley. So glad we did - gorgeous! Have a quick peek....

This is the walled garden:


And just outside same:


And I loved this:


My conscience is pricking me - I need to go see what that 'orrible cat is doing!


Friday, March 18, 2005

Pass the match sticks, please

Or rather, don't. I really, really need to sleep, not mess around on the internet.

Golly, today was tiring - a full class, fifteen. Principally, me talking to them about the ins and outs of spinning wheels. Good and bad points about various, and the importance of oiling (sigh....I tell them about this nearly every time and it goes in one ear and straight out the other!) but in addition, I had two and a half newbies that no-one had told me about, neither of whom had a wheel with them. What a good job I had taken along my Schacht, Tiny Tim and Lendrum, so with the cranky old class wheel, we had enough.

Morning, got them spindling, they managed that ok. Started them treadling for a while before lunch. After, did yarn abuse as second subject with main group - they nearly fainted with shock at what I did to a skein of merino and cashmere, but were forced to admit that it looked loads better after shocking in hot then cold water, and then beating the bejasus out of it! Then, attempts to get two beginners actually spinning on the wheels. Which they did, but only after a fashion - and they got somewhat discouraged, despite my best attempts to cheer them on. Still, they did say that they would be back, although heaven knows when with one of them, who actually comes from Harrow! (Dahn sarf...)

And speaking of which, that is where we are off to tomorrow, after doing a certain amount of duty at Guild. Start family lunch&etc. Haven't seen most of them for ages and ages, so I am looking forward to it - one cousin did come, bless him, for my father's funeral two years ago, but few other sightings. By the way, that is "Start" as in surname, not beginning family lunch - yes, I know, weird. Drove me mad as a kid, which is why I ditched it on marriage. Now I want it back, but don't quite have the bottle! Workin' on it....


Thursday, March 17, 2005

A new form of exercise?

I get to take the cats to prison. Now, I love my mogs dearly (What? Who would have guessed??) Shall we cue photo?

Well, I would, but I have sent one to flickr twice, and it isn't showing up, so no dice.

But catching and boxing them is a living nightmare. This always has to happen in the morning, when they are asleep on the bed and have no opportunity to fly off in all directions with umpteen places to hide. The worst case scenario is if one or both get on top of the central heating boiler, at least for me. I am not tall enough to reach them and pluck them off, even while teetering on a chair. So, we bring the box upstairs when they aren't looking, and go to all sorts of lengths and subterfuges to try to con them that no, indeedy, nothing untoward like the vet or prison is about to happen.

They generally twig at the last minute, by which time they are at least confined to the bedroom. But the latest game is to go under the bed. Now, Neelix is relatively easy to catch because he blorts at me so I can echo-locate him, and he is usually near an edge. But Max is a cunning little bugger. He goes right to the middle of our six foot wide bed. If I lie down at full stretch on the floor, head sticking underneath the bed, arm at full stretch too - I can just touch him with my fingertips! In order to grab'n'drag, I have to push the bed - the bed moves, but the cat doesn't. Then I can get a hold of the scruff, and pull, and once out from under, sort of pull the cat to me whilst at the same time making like a caterpillar, and then somehow managing to stand upright whilst not letting go of the cat. It is at this point that I discover that even though I think that I vacuum from time to time, the bedroom floor is filthy.

Still, I conquered and survived. And they are fine, they don't actually mind the cattery at all. they get to watch chickens and peacocks, and if they are lucky, sheep.

On the way back, I picked up the red bead thing from the framers. My oh my, doesn't a frame make things look professional!

red bead thing framed

Not so brilliant a photo, I had to turn the flash off the avoid the reflection, and it is quite a dull day. Still, a record. I really like it, I see more in the tea-leaves.

Now I MUST finish class prep!! Oh - and this comes warts and all, spellcheck is on strike....


Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Nothing major; just some of life's petty annoyances.

Yesterday, I finally drug out the sewing machine that DMIL gave me a while back, and I had had serviced. I want to wear a skirt and jacket for the family do on Sunday that I bought a few weeks ago and very, very foolishly did not have taken up by the store. It has a very full hem, and has to be done from the waistband, so I have been putting it off.....I test the machine on a spare piece of fabric, and then start in earnest, and the damn thing gets a hissy fit and the tension goes all out of whack. Now I don't know if it is the machine, or me - I'm unfamiliar with it, and could have set something wrongly, inadvertently. Pah. So out comes my own machine, that I had been moaning about, hence the gift aforementioned. I'm struggling to find all the bits, meanwhile going back and forth to the computer where I have some exciting eBay auctions reaching a climax. Now, to do this, I have to constantly change glasses, and all of a sudden as I put my prescription ones on I can't see. (Now that is scary.) To keep it brief, the actual frame has broken, no doubt due to my habit of sitting them on top of my head, and the lens is gawd knows where. (The DSM finds it for me later, bless his little cotton socks.) Sewing aborted for the time being, but at least I am fifty quidlets richer! (Did I mention that I love eBAy??)

OK, so today, Wednesday (right?) I have a thing at Alston Hall, a Disability Awareness session. And for some unknown reason I have elected to go to the morning one, which starts at 9.30, and it normally takes an hour an a quarter to get there - except that the DSM, who knows the route, says it will take a lot longer at this rather earlier hour. So, up at 6.30, which is not my favourite sort of thing, and out of the house at 7.30 - only for whatever reason, the roads are clear as clear and I sail through, arriving in loads of time for several cups of coffee......Except. Except that the seminar was actually fuckin'yesterday.

All my fault. I can't get used to my memory letting me down, so I keep relying on it and I really must not any more. If it were not for the fact that it is happening to all of my friends, I would be back under the duvet in a blue funk, but I do realise that it is ....just normal for my age.


However! The shawl is done. Not easy to photograph, as it is huge, and as it is raining, I can't spread it out outside, but for what it is worth, here it is.


And another view.


I'll see if I can persuade the DSM to model it for a better view (you really don't need to see me.......

And so, soon, to pastures new.


Monday, March 14, 2005

The lure of eBay

Is fearful strong. I first signed up, oh, over a year ago, and have had great fun indulging myself in fulfilling a few fantasies from childhood. At surprisingly little cost, I gradually acquired a full tea and dinner service of Masons Ironstone, something I had lusted after for years. The lust fuelled by memories of tea with my grandmother, and Gwen, the woman she lived with. That is the quick way of saying it - the relationship was not in the modern sense of that phrase. Maud, my grandmother, answered an advertisement for a "companion" - ie, a sort of housekeeper cum general factotum, terribly old-fashioned to contemplate nowadays, but in the late 1950s not quite so weird. Gwen was a fascinating woman, even as a child I was able to sense that, and she was a huge influence on my life. Maybe I will tell more of the story one day, who knows? Anyway, I loved spending time with them, and in the way that can happen with things from childhood, these feelings somehow attached themselves to the Masons china. Now I have my own, feel as if I have reclaimed a part of my past, and enjoy using it, giving thanks to the wonders of the internet and - eBay.

The next important childhood link was Mary Plain, the bear cub from the bear pits of Berne, books that I lapped up in my extreme youth. Then they disappeared - they did actually resurface some time in the 1980s, I believe, but in an incarnation so unlike the original that I didn't recognise them as the same thing. Now I have quite a few of them, and love them as much as I did when I was six or so, evidence of my extreme intelligence and good taste of course....or something?

But this was beginning to get expensive. I put off selling for ages, not quite sure why. But all of a sudden, I did it. Oh, jeepers, it is even more fun than buying, and the bank balance increases rather than decreases. Slowly, to be sure - although I have sold one piece of spinning equipment that has gone for a tidy enough sum. It is too exiting - and sooo time consuming, I feel compelled to keep checking to see how many people have looked, got on watch, bid. Perhaps I will grow out of it? I need to discipline myself a bit better - well, ain't that the truth!

So - yesterday, I found myself in dire need of packing materials for some eBay sales, and with a new-to-me car sitting outside that I needed to familiarise myself with. And, the sun was shining. More fun - getting lost in the Calder Valley back country on a sunny day, in a cute little red car, having just had an entire hour of Stationery Porn at Staples. Wow, bliss. I certainly got to grips with the clutch! (Thinking about it, I could have phrased that a tad better.....)

And in order to keep the record and my head on the straightish side - the shawl is not quite but very, very nearly off the needles, I have very, very nearly filled the second bobbin (it takes a long time to fill a Schacht bobbin with fine yarn) and I am still playing with the bead-woven strip. One step at a time....


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Busy day.

Firstly - can't resist!


Just a little pic, as no credit to me at all, except that I did manage to drive it home without mishap, which considering that the clutch couldn't be more different from the 106 was an achievement! Nice bouncy little thing, I am going to enjoy it.

Now, to work. Having got the bead loom out, what to do with it? Got it threaded up yesterday, with much language. Having done that, well, I had to do something with it. Being me, couldn't just find a nice easy pattern to follow, to try it out. Oh, no, disaster always has to be courted by Doing My Own Thing. So, I found green and purple beads. Then, this afternoon, got back to it and thought - peacocks, So hunted up some royal blue and some gold beads. I'm just doodling, and finding the whole thing very fiddly, but it might work out. Of course, I dove straight in, only referring to the leaflet that came with the loom: and then reading up on instructions on the web later, I see that I could have started in a number of ways. But never mind, I'm off and running.

bead loom

Then, having been putting this off for ages, I finally set up an instant indigo dyebath. A friend has a 60th birthday coming up next month, and I wanted to make a little something for her to mark it. She doesn't wear wool, (I keep on meaning to do her a range of samples for a bra test, but never get around to it) so this is cotton and silk. She is very much a blue person, so indigo seemed appropriate. But for whatever reason, I have been putting it off and putting it off, afraid that something would go wrong. It nearly did, and I have no idea what. I did a dyebath, and the yarn came out a very insipid duck egg shade, and slightly patchy to boot. The DSM was making reassuring noises, but I knew it wasn't right. So I did another one, and this time it worked a treat. That is the joy of instant indigo, it is so quick - a "real" vat would have taken too long to prepare to repeat! Anyway, it's done, the colour is good, and the water rinsing clear - now we just have to pass the crocking on the fingers test when the DSM comes to knit it, but I feel reasonably confident about that.

indigo cotton

So, there we have it...gotta go, visitor! Copy, Carol!


Thursday, March 10, 2005

I did it a-ffffin-gain!

I am such a dope! Having been carefully copying before hitting "publish" and all going well, today I forgot, and whammo!!! but I am woman, I am strong, and I am determined to post today, so there!

OK, enough with the exclamation marks. What I was posting about was this:

red beads

My bead "thing", intended as a gift for a cousin for her (their?) Ruby Wedding. Over which I am, as usual, having crises of confidence, that it is good enough, they will like it, is it appropriate. The usual stuff. I find so hard to judge my own work, particularly beading, to which I am so new. But this seemed something that felt right, I tried one which didn't and then this just sort of grew. Hey, organic - got to be good. I'm going to live with it for a couple of days and then see if the local framers can do what I want - a deepish box frame, very plain.

Now I need a new project. Plenty to choose from, ha di ha. But I dug out the little loom that I was given a couple of years ago, might just have a first try with that. Not tonight - that's the Coven, and an opportunity to do several more rows on The Shawl. Which may be finished sooner rather than later as some of the balls are getting rather little, and when one goes, I might throw in the towel.

Saw a squirrel running up the wall across the lane this morning, so they are waking up! Maybe it was the one who was responsible for the incursion in to my roof? Who knows. But I have a fondness for the little buggahs.

OK - copy.....

Oh - forgot to say, the "thing" is mounted on handmade silk paper, which works, I think, quite well.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Squirrels in the attic

No, I was not intending to describe my mental condition. Mind you.... No, Pete went up into the roof yesterday, and came down with a handful of peanuts. (OK, so this post is getting weirder by the minute, but it is true, I tell you!) Now, a week or two ago, I had been sitting on the bed reading, when a small bomb went off in the roof, which is not really an attic, but a sort of box, with a floor and a light - we did have a real attic once in another house, but that is another story...) So, there was crashing and banging above my head, and I put it down to mice, the usual culprits. You can't live in the country, in a house that backs on to sloping woodland and not have mice, it's an impossibility, never mind however many cats you have. But it was a hefty old noise. Which I now believe not to have been mice after all but a squirrel, because as far as I know, mice don't stash nuts and squirrels do. The thing is, though, whilst I can imagine skinny little mice squeezing in between the roof slates, it is much harder to imagine squirrels doing it. And it is not that I mind them coming in, after all, they do have to live, too, but I don;t want a dam' great hole somewhere in the roof. Well, maybe it was a skinny little squirrel....?

I am trying to write a couple of proposals for workshops, but I keep getting help. This is not the most brilliant of photos, but this is Max launching himself at my person as I sit at the keyboard. Well, sort of, as of course here I do have a camera pointed at him, rather than doing any actual typing.

(no subject)

I am knitting on. And on. The damn shawl will be finished in a few days. It will look nice, yes it will. I am also attempting to bead an "art piece" as a present for my cousin and her husband. When I feel a little more certain of it, I will blog it. Back to the grind, enough diversion!


Monday, March 07, 2005

Mother's Day, obstreperous inanimate objects and an eBay purchase

Plus the fact that I think I need to watch the length of my titles.

I was a good daughter, in fact we both were. We took mama to the Alice Hawthorne for lunch, which she does claim to like very much. But I know that she doesn't really mind where she goes, as long as it is Out. I have to admit that she is dealing pretty well with her situation, which she doesn't like, but manages to be philosophical about - not quite admitting that she has made her bed &etc, but almost. Having said that, if one does have to be imprisoned in a retirement home, then where she is must come close to the top of the list (that's the Masons for you...)

And having said all that - why is there not a not-Mother's day, eh? We miss out on that extra day of cards and flowers and being taken out to lunch and treated as Queen-for-a-day. I really am quite surprised that some inventive marketing person at Hallmark cards hasn't come up with something by now. Hah.

The OIO is my washing machine. Of late years, I have hated washing machines, they don't make 'em like they used to. This one (yes, the self-same one that ate my lovely corriedale fleece) has a bad habit of cutting out from time to time - there is a problem with the socket or the plug. I have spoken to Maintenance, ie the DSM, several times. I have spoken to Maintenance, ie the DSM, several times. (Repeat, ad nauseum.) I think we may finally have arrived at an understanding, involving me not putting his muddy running kit through the wash Ever Again, unless..... It has gone suspiciously quiet downstairs in the kitchen again, need to go check, dammit.

eBay. I am trying to control my addiction, or rather channelling it by moving in to selling rather than buying. But I couldn't resist this.

Palm loom

Quite apart from anything else, I am fascinated by what might be the story behind how this object, purchased by someone in Brooklyn, still with the US stamps and address clear on the box, now fetches up in West Yorkshire. I am also fascinated by the amount of work needed to make each little fabric puff, and then to stitch those in to a "prize-winning" rug. Actually, it now occurs to me, the things exercising my mind this morning fit together quite well. How the world has moved from a belief in economy, frugality. Recycling everything, wasting nothing, and everything being done with care and love, even. To a society in which we buy everything, often knowing that it will not function perfectly, and without much of a life-expectancy to boot. OK, so I am probably over-romanticising things. And, of course, we do, some of us, make things, all the time. Praise be!

I may not ever use this little thing - or I might. Actually, it would be a good thing to travel with - perfect for on a plane, or not taking up much room in the luggage. H'mm.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Did I really just do that?

What? Go eat fish and chips at the White Lion at four in the afternoon? How bizarre!

Well, yes. Lunch never happened, so we stopped to eat on our way home from darkest Huddersfield.

And well, no. What I really, really just did was - go and buy a car. I've been and gorn and done it. As of this time next week, I will be the owner, for better or for worse, of a Suzuki Jimny.

Stop laughing.

Yes, I am quite aware that I have just signed up for the 4x4 equivalent of a 2CV. But - I had a couple of those for a lot of years, and got on just fine with them, so see no reason why this should be any different. I am not wanting to go off-roading*, I don't do a lot of miles in a year, and I don't have to fit in six kids and a lab or two. What I do have is a little bit of untarmac'ed lane that can ice up and keep me prisoner except on foot a couple of times a year. And I ain't getting any younger, so the prospect of carting the groceries down aforementioned ice-field is getting less and less appealing, so with a teeny weeny little 4x4 all of my own I will be liberated from such cares......

That sounds really convincing, doesn't it? And so it should, it's true, all true. Oh, and plus the fact that I just like the look of the beast. But I didn't buy it according to its colour, so that's all right then. (It is red, actually.) I think we may have got quite a good deal, it is only three years old and with quite a low mileage, but all the same, it is still pretty scary when you don't do this sort of thing very often!

*Well, only a very little bit (g).

OK, so - nothing new on the fibre front, merely on-going. I shall now take myself off for a nice restorative spin, see if I can finish the second bobbin (progress, see!) of the merino/cashmere. Either that or fall asleep in front of the fire. Too much excitement for one day!


Thursday, March 03, 2005

A political rant, a book and for light relief, a photograph

When I picked up the Guardian to read last night, I was faced with this on the front page: "Helen Sears, the minister responsible for counter-terrorism, said yesterday that Muslims will have to accept as "reality" that they will be stopped and searched by the police more often than the rest of the public."

Excuse me? Am I in the right century, country, "reality"? What happened to innocent until proved guilty, even democracy and due process of law (rapidly disappearing out of the same window as Habeas Corpus, actually, as far as I can see, so don't worry about answering that.) I tried exchanging the word "Muslim" for one or two others..."Protestant; Baptist; Pagan (oh, that's a good one); animal rights activist (don't agree with everything they do by any means, but you get my drift); how about those arch-criminals, feminists? So, ok, I am trying for a little ironic humour here, but this is, to me at any rate, a very important point. Then I remembered that someone had made the same point, only much, much better than I, a long time ago:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

So I make no apology for being irate, emotional, dramatic. No, none at all. What is more, I sat down and wrote to my MP, for all the good it will do. If I get more than a standard reply letter, I will dance naked under the next appropriate full moon.

So, to a book. I was talking about book group the other night - at the time, I picked up the next book for the other group in town, and last night I started reading it. This morning I finished it. Doug Coupland, "Girlfriend in a Coma". I wouldn't actually call it a mega-great book, but definitely unputdownable, original, well written and thoughtprovoking. Parable? Allegory? In brief, as far as I can interpret it, and it will be very interesting to hear what others make of it, we have the choice between ignoring the state of things, living in blissful ignorance whilst all gets worse and worse around us (specifically the environment, and the treadmill, ersatz lifestyle of the majority in the developed world) - or we cease to believe everything that we are being encouraged to swallow (literally)and make life uncomfortable but honest for ourselves and question, question, question everything. Well, I can identify with the uncomfortable.......

And as the light relief a thing of wonder, beauty and awe. This, I hasten to add is not my photograph, the original being by someone called Amr Nabil. I hijacked it from the web. If that is a crime, then, I apologise.

beaded mummy

This is the face of a beaded mummy dated to the 26th Dynasty, from 672 BC to 525 BC. I have never seen anything like it before, and think it is quite amazing. Those must have been beautiful eyes with which to gaze upon the world, and hopefully see with some honesty.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bluddy Blogger.....

just ate my post again. That makes me so mad!!!! I need to remember to copy everything before attempting to publish. Makes mental note...hah! With a sieve instead of a memory, fat chance.

Oh, buggrit, fast action replay.

This is what I did yesterday:


Two hour beading class, couldn't;t quite hack working out how to do cabs on my own from a book. Ok, so not rocket science, but easier with a tutor, and I have it now. I only wish I could find the two pretty dichroic cabs that I had bought last year, and had I thought, taken with me yesterday and that now seem to have disappeared...

Then, book group last night. "The curious incident..." (Mark Haddon) Super book. Everyone loved it, and I was glad to hear from some of the group members with experience that it is a reasonable facsimile of Asperger's. The disturbing thing was two people who, although loving the book per se, felt very strongly that it was not and should not be a children's book. I did try to press them for their reasons, and no-one was, I think, convinced. But one of them seemed to be saying that children shouldn't read about people who are "abnormal" (sic) I found that rather chilling, and although I don't want to give the whole context, doubly disturbing and also unexpected from the particular source, a woman whose life history should have made her more tolerant of "difference" rather than less...ah well.

OK - so who can tell me why I should have seen something like two dozen coaches under police escort fore and aft on the motorway yesterday? Weird sight.

And - I don't spindle spin whilst being dummy, but Pete does! (sometimes.) He also always spindles at book group, and the one time her forgot to take it, they all got upset. I think they like the eternal pink yarn, meself.

Impressive precis! (Takes copy...)